Every artist wants this title.
It’s as if you can take art and make it a competitive sport. You can try, but it always falls flat. Art is above that. When you pit artists against one another, no one really “wins.” This is not a game.
When I think about, “The Greatest Artist,” Caravaggio, Rembrandt and JMW Turner come to mind, but even they fall short. Way short. They were certainly inspired, but definitely not the source of all inspiration.
Doesn’t the “The Greatest Artist” have to be someone who has all of the tools, techniques, craftsmanship, concepts, intentions, motivations, expressiveness and God knows what else literally dancing on the very tip of His - or her - pinky finger?
Doesn’t “The Greatest Artist” have to be beyond formidable, above reproach, all-knowing and ever-present?
Wait. I think I might be on to something. Please hang with me on this. I’ll try to make it worth your while.
When you consider, “The Greatest Artist,” I think you have to think about the beginning, the end and eternity. You have to think “timeless,” yet “of all time.”
You have to think, “universal,” yet “miniscule.” You have to be able to connect a tiny cell or even an amoeba with infinity. You have to sit high above the galaxy, yet also be able to spot the tiniest, most specific grain of sand.
You have to be a commander. I mean, seriously, who does that?
You have to KNOW grand design like no one else. In fact, it would help immensely if you’re responsible for grand design and even time itself.
Recently, I was driving through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. As I drove through the mountains and was lovingly distracted by the valleys, it was all I could do to keep from driving right off the rails.
I looked in awe at all of God’s creation … the stellar sun, true-blue sky, puffy-white clouds, soaring birds and mountain ranges to live-die-and live again-for. As I drove, I broke into song.
Keep in mind, I’m no singer, but when you see such things, how can you not sing? It doesn’t matter than you’re not a singer. What matters is that you’re singing because singing means you’re in communion with the masterpieces all around you. In fact, YOU are the crucial part of the picture … a masterwork like none other. Who did that?
Something just occurred to me. On the very day that I drove to North Carolina, I hit the road at 4 a.m. I love to drive during the morning hours when I can witness the sunrise.
Of course, I was drowsy, but as I locked the front door of my house, picked up my bags and made my way to my car, I looked up and felt a smile literally painting its way on my face. I had no control over it. I was beaming.
There it was. The MOON … beaming back at me. I almost felt as if it had been created just for me. This is what great art does.
It wasn’t your typically lovely, yet ignorable moon. It was one of those really big, super-white, glowy and elegant moons that are just hanging in the sky like a masterpiece on an art gallery wall.
“Oooooh …. Ahhhh!”
Suddenly, I felt inspired. Okay, I was moonstruck. By the way, “Moonstruck” is one of my favorite films.
Anyway … as I smiled and felt the glow pour over me, I stood there for a quick moment. I had no choice. I’m telling you, I had absolutely no choice. Great art will not be ignored.
At that moment, I almost felt something telling me that my trip was going to be a good one. Everything was going to be okay. I felt blessed and assured. This is what the greatest art does for you. It feeds you. It nurtures you.
The greatest art tells you that despite the lonely depths of your life at the moment, it is here with you. The greatest art is speaking with you … right where you are. The greatest art is always telling you that even when the night is at its darkest … there is always light that beckons the dawn.
The greatest art tells you that you don’t have to change yourself in any way to be “acceptable” or “worthy.” You were created worthy. You were born worthy. Worthy is interwoven in your very DNA.
Like the beaming moon, the greatest art is a reflection of you. It beams right back at you. The greatest art is there to redeem you … IF … you believe in redemption.
Along those lines, I often ask artists where they think their talent comes from. I usually smile, look heavenward and wink as I ask this question. No offense, but most of the answers I get are usually some concocted form of cluelessness.
I mean really, you have to consider the source. It’s really about the source of it all. Being the greatest means you’ve got something supernatural going on. You’re just that good. Actually, not good, but great. Not great, but beyond great.
You are “The Greatest of All.”
Hmm. Do I really need to hit you over the head with this? I’d rather not.
Look … you don’t have to believe as I believe. In fact, I strongly encourage you to come up with your own essay. This is simply me writing after getting a spark of inspiration.
This, like art, is also not a competition. Creative expression is about expressing one’s creativity. No?
And so, here we are. Chatting it up about God himself, the Greatest Artist. I mean, who did you think I was going to say, Picasso? I love him, but I think not.
Didn’t Picasso smoke? What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know.
Anyway, when you look up at the night-time, starry sky or see the changing, falling leaves ablaze with color or drive through those majestic mountains or hear the howling winds or witness the feather-light snow delicately dropping to earth or walk on Miami Beach with that spectacular, vast ocean by your side, how can it be anyone else?
And inherently in your recognition of all of this is the gift of redemption. We have fallen, but with the light, we can rise again. How can you look at these drop-dead masterpieces and not see it?
Isn’t it all right there? It’s not about needing proof, yet this is really all the proof you need. Doesn’t the inherent grace of creation, just inspire your faith?
You don’t visibly see Him and yet there HE is. I am convinced He was smiling and beaming and probably laughing when he made it all. How can you call it, “good” and not be joyful in the process?
So … you think YOU’RE the greatest artist?
Call me crazy, but it seems to me you’ve got your work cut out for you.